Have you driven a Ford lately?

When my wife and I found out we were expecting our first child, I was exhilarated. Then my thoughts naturally went where most men’s go:

There’s no way in hell I’m buying a minivan.

But as the months clicked by, we realized a second vehicle may in fact be necessary for our small family.  So with marching orders in hand, I turned to the Web and buried myself in reviews, rankings and all kinds of gearhead forums. I needed to figure out what we should buy.

Then one day I stumbled across a blog post announcing the availability of the new 2011 Ford Fiesta. Embedded in the post was this clip from one of my favorite TV shows:

A Ford. Really?

I’ve always bought imports. Never even considered buying domestic before… Besides, were there even any US car companies left? (I kid!)

But this car felt different. It looked fun. Plus, if my family ever had to make an amphibious landing I knew it could handle it.

I decided to take the next step. I filled out the online form requesting more information. Tentatively, I pressed the submit button. I knew my info would be entering some vast and murky CRM system. I’d likely get spammed, dripped on and all sorts of other unpleasant verbs.

I was now a lead.

But what happened next surprised me.

Three days later a package came in the mail. Inside, a nicely worded letter thanking me for my inquiry and a gift: a 1GB USB key in the shape of Ford Fiesta.

And not much else since. Blissful peace and quiet as I make my decision.

My point with this whole tale (other than an excuse to embed a pretty awesome video) is to get you to think about the experience you offer when a web visitor arrives at your site

Remember, Ford did all of this for a vehicle whose MSRP starts at $13,000.

You’re dealing with someone who’s looking for a home in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

What kind of experience are you offering?

When Marc wrote about user experience he said it “…encompasses all aspects of your customers’ interaction with the brand.” A $10 tchotchke and nicely worded letter thanking me for my prospective business is not a huge investment. But Ford made the effort.

And the fact that they didn’t aggressively sell my info to the lowest bidder and then subject me to a barrage of phone calls or emails from hungry salespeople took remarkable restraint.

But the positive sentiment this experience has left on me is immeasurable. Hey, it even got me writing this blog post, right?

Most importantly though it got me thinking about buying a Ford.

Something I’d never even thought of before.